Rep. Peter Buckley will leave big shoes to fill in House District 5. The Ashland Democrat has served admirably in Salem since 2004, co-chairing the budgetwriting Ways and Means Committee for the past eight years before announcing his retirement from lawmaking. We recommend voters send Pam Marsh to succeed him.
District 5 encompasses the south end of the county, including Ashland, Phoenix, Talent, southwest Medford and Jacksonville. The district leans heavily Democratic. Marsh is a Democrat, but that doesn’t mean she’ll automatically win the seat. A Southern Oregon resident since 1994, she brings a solid background in local government as a member of the Ashland charter review committee, the Planning Commission and now the Ashland City Council; nonprofit work as director of the Ashland Community Food Bank; and experience in small business as co-owner of the Greensprings Inn.
Her opponent, Steven Richie of Ashland, the owner of a fire sprinkler design company, has a degree in forestry from Oregon State University. He worked for the Washington Department of Natural Resources in the late 1980s, as a staffer in the Oregon Legislature in 1990, then for the Washington Legislature from 1991 to 1998. He has no elective experience.
In a joint interview with Mail Tribune editors, Marsh exhibited a strong grasp of the complex issues facing Oregon in the coming legislative session. Richie came into this race at a disadvantage. Marsh has been running since last spring, but her Republican opponent, Alan DeBoer, decided to run for the District 3 Senate seat after the death of Alan Bates. The county Republican Party tapped Richie to take DeBoer’s place in the House race at the end of August.
Richie is personable, well-spoken and intelligent, but he lacks Marsh’s knowledge of the issues, and he has not served in local government in any capacity. He would benefit from serving on a city or county committee or on the City Council before aiming for a legislative seat.
We recommend House District 5 voters send Pam Marsh to the Oregon Legislature.